ddHiFi TC44A Lightning DAC/AMP Adapter Review
ddHiFi TC44A Lightning DAC/AMP Adapter Review
ddHiFi (DD Electronics Technology Co.Ltd.) is a relative young company located in China that is specialized in the producing of Portable Audio Accessories like Protective/Storage Case’s for DAP’s, DAC’s, etc. and Adaptors DAP’s, DAC’s and Smartphone’s.
The ddHiFi TC44A is DAC/Amplifier adapter that is specially designed for Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices with Lightning input. It comes with a 4.4mm Single Ended input design, which means it doesn’t have a balanced circuit design; however you can use your regular 4.4mm Balanced cable with it. The TC44A is equipped with 1x Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC SoC that supports Native DSD up to DSD256 and is able to output 60mW @ 32Ω for each (dual) channel.
I would like to thank ddHiFi for providing me TC44A Lightning DAC/AMP Adapter sample for review purposes. I am not affiliated with ddHiFi beyond this review and these words reflect my true, unaltered opinions about the product.
Price & Availability:
The actual price of the ddHiFi TC44A Lighting DAC/Amplifier dongle is US $ 79,99 that is available under the link below;
Package and Accessories:
The ddHiFi TC44A came in a small box made of recycled cardboard paper that we know from other ddHiFi products. On the top of the box are some brandings and product details.
Inside the box are the following items;
- 1 x ddHiFi TC44A Lightning DAC/Amplifier Dongle
- 1 x Print Material
Design and Build Quality:
The ddHiFi TC44A is an ultra portable DAC/AMP adapter with Lightning interface and 4.4mm output specially made for Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices with Lightning port. The TC44A is a miniature solution with dimensions of only L19.5xW21xT12mm and is also very lightweight with just 5.5grams..
The TC44A has a T shaped design and shows a very premium look and feel that will suit pretty well to your Apple device. The housing of the adapter is made from Aluminum Alloy material that has a special treatment with two color combination, which is blue for the main body and black for the front panel.
The front panel in black color sports the brand logo and some product related details on the top.
On the left surface is the 4.4mm Single Ended Female Input that works with 4.4mm Balanced (TRRRS) headphone plugs, which has a circular metal guide in gold color.
At the bottom of the TC44A is the male lightning connector interface to connect the DAC/AMP adapter with Apple iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch devices.
The TC44A has a very good build quality, which looks and feels quite robust when you hold it in your hand same like any other product that I have from ddHiFi.
Some Technical Specifications:
- DAC Configuration : 1x Cirrus Logic CS43131
- PCM Decoding Capability : 32bit/384kHz
- Native DSD Support : up to DSD256
- Frequency Response : 20 Hz – 20 kHz
- THD+N : ≤ -110dB
- SNR : 120dB
- DNR : 120dB
- Output Power : 60mW @ 32 ohm (Dual Channel)
- Digital Input Interface : Lighting
- Outputs : 4.4mm Single Ended
- Dimensions : L19.5xW21xT12
- Weight : 5.5 grams
A) Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC (Digital to Analog Converter):
The ddHiFi TC44A comes with a CS43131 DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) configuration of the company Cirrus Logic that features a build in amplifier. The CS43131 has a resolution of 32-bit per channel and supports sampling rates up to 384 kHz. The TC44A offers also Native DSD support up to DSD256, which is quite impressive for such a small device, especially at this price range.
B) Amplifier & Driving Power, Hissing:
The CS43131 SoC that is integrated to the ddHiFi TC44A comes with a build in amplifier section, which offers a pretty low level of distortion and high output power for improved dynamics and resolution. The TC44A offers a driving power about 60mW @ 32ohm for each channel, which quite impressive for such a miniaturized DAC/AMP solution.
The TC44A shows a very clean output from both with very low amount of hissing / background noise.
Equipments used for this review:
- DAC’s : ddHiFi TC44A, IKKO ITM03 Zerda
- Source : Apple iPad Air 2
- IEM’s : ddHiFi Janus 2, FiiO FH9
Albums & tracks used for this review:
- Adele – My Little Love (Spotify)
- Sarah McLachlan – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
- Aretha Franklin – I Say A Little Payer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- David Bowie – Heroes (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Elton John – Rocket Man ((Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Bro Safari, UFO! – Drama (Deezer HiFi)
- Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
- Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Ferit Odman – Look, Stop & Listen (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Deezer HiFi)
- Otto Liebert & Luna Negra – The River (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Lunatic Soul – The Passage (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove it) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Photek – The Hiden Camera (Spotify)
- Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)s
- Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
- Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)
The ddHiFi TC44A offers a pretty natural presentation for such a miniaturized DAC/AMP adapter with 4.4mm Single Ended output. It shows a slightly warmer than neutral tonality, while it has low amount of coloration that is not overdone. The general atmosphere is pretty transparent and airy, while the bass is produced with a good level of authority. The midrange on the other hand is shown with a natural sense of transparency and resolution, while the treble range has a decent grade of clarity and definition for DAC/AMP adaptor at this price tag.
This review has been written after a burn-in period of 50 hours. I have paired the TC44A with the Apple iPad Air 2 (source) and ddHiFi Janus 2, FiiO FH9 and FiiO FD7 (IEM’s).
Bass / Midrange / Treble / Soundstage:
The ddHiFi TC44A has a pretty natural and controlled bass response with a slightly amount of coloration in the midbass region. The subbass shows a good sense of depth and rumble when I do listen to it with the FiiO FH9, while the ddHiFi Janus 2 has a natural decay and moderate level of extension. The midbass area on the other hands sounds pretty tight, impactful and controlled, especially when I do listen to it the FiiO FD7.
The midrange of the ddHiFi TC44A shows a slightly warmer than neutral tonality and offers a pretty transparent and airy atmosphere with good level of resolution. The lower midrange is moderately pronounced yet clear when I do listen to male vocal or to instruments like acoustic guitars, cellos and or hi-hats. The upper midrange on the other hand is fairly pronounced yet controlled. This tuning is avoiding the occurrence of sibilance and harshness of the voice of female vocals. Female vocals do sound lively, emotional and quite detailed when I do listen to it with the Janus 2, FH9 or FD7.
The upper midrange of the LZ A6 Mini is well pronounced and is showing a close to neutral tonality. The general presentation of this region is quite transparent and spacious, while the transition is in most situations pretty soft and controlled.
The treble range of the ddHiFi TC44A is slightly bright, spacious and has a good level of extension. A remarkable highlight of this area is that it doesn’t come to much in the foreground, which could generate unwanted harshness. The treble quantity, intensity and brightness are on a efficient level. For example, the ride and crash cymbals to sound pretty controlled, fast and pronounced especially when I do listen to it with the FiiO FH9.
When it comes to the soundstage performance, I can say that the ddHiFi TC44A shows a pretty good sense of separation and positioning of instruments and the vocals. The soundstage shows a slightly more wideness than it depth that is on an average level.
ddHiFi TC44A versus IKKO ITM03 Zerda Lightning:
The IKKO ITM03 has a brighter tonality compared to the ddHiFi TC44A and shows slightly less coloration in the lows and midrange. The bass of the TC44A shows a better sense of depth and authority, both in the subbass and midbass region. However, both the TC44A and the ITM03 Zerda are equal in terms of resolution in this area.
The midrange of the ddHiFi TC44A shows a tad warmer tonality and offers also a better sense of musicality with most tracks and IEM’s I have listened to it. The IKKO ITM03 Zerda on the other has the slightly edge when it comes to the clarity, while it sounds a bit sterile in this area. Male vocals and instruments that do need body and depth do sound more natural and realistic with the TC44A, while female vocals and instruments like flutes and cellos do sound more vivid with the ITM03 Zerda.
The transitions from the upper midrange towards the lower treble area do sound slightly more controlled when I do listen to the TC44A, especially in movements when instrument do play with high level of distortion. The treble range of the IKKO ITM03 Zerda sounds slightly more pronounced, while the ddHiFi TC44A offer a tad better sense of control in this area.
Both devices do offer a fairly good soundstage performance for products at this price range. The soundstage of the IKKO ITM03 shows slightly more wideness, while the ddHiFi TC44A has the edge when it comes to the depth of the stage.
The TC44A is a miniaturized DAC/AMP product from ddHiFi for Apple devices with Lightning interface, which comes with a very sleek design and impressive sounding implementation of the Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC Chip. Moreover, TC44A is also quite powerful for its size and offers Native DSD playback up to DSD256, which are some impressive specs for such a tiny device.
Pros and Cons:
- + Good Sounding Implementation of the Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC Chip
- + Very small form factor
- + Native DSD Support up to DSD256
- + Overall Price to Performance Ratio
- – Not a real balanced output
Thank you for the Read!